May: Prepare your budget. For most financing companies, the required minimum down payment for a brand new car is 20 to 25 percent of the total cost. Remember to factor in the cost of comprehensive insurance, the chattel mortgage fee, and two year’s worth of LTO registration (all mandatory for a financed car). BPI, BDO, Metrobank, East-West Bank, and PS Bank are the top vehicle financing companies in the country today.
On the average, financing companies charge about 7.5 to 8.5 percent interest per annum on the total remaining balance of a car. With this in mind, it’s advisable that you minimize your loan amount by making a big down payment and paying off the balance in the shortest term you’re comfortable with.
July: Shop around for the best deal in town. Check the level of professionalism, courtesy, and product knowledge of each dealership you visit. Sometimes, a great car is hampered by poor service from the dealership.
Check also which dealership of the same brand can give you a better deal. Some offer free window tint and free LTO registration for up to three years; others give an umbrella, free emergency recovery or towing service coverage for a year, and/or free service coupons. After considering all these factors, make your decision and make that purchase. Congratulations!
October: Three months after buying the car or 1,000 kilometers on the odometer. This is your first scheduled service interval, so it’s important not to miss it! Remember to ask your dealer about questions you may have at this point. Drive safely!
Botchi Santos is the consumer editor of Top Gear Philippines. He also writes a column in the Motoring section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.